with Catherine Leech
St Lucia really does tick all the boxes when it comes to delivering the Caribbean dream holiday.
Starting with the geography, our driver and guide, David gave me the overview.
Its very small - only 27 miles long from north to south and 14 miles from east to west. The Caribbean Sea is on the west coast, more hotels and beaches and the east coast is very tropical Atlantic Ocean
Where would you say the best beaches are?
I would say to the north here, the Rodney Bay area and Pigeon Island. We also have Vigie Beach close to Castries where a lot of the locals come and spend Sunday afternoon. We also have a beautiful beach in Marigot Bay which is a bay within a bay so the water is very calm and nice. We have Anse Cochon which is the snorkelling spots, very nice beach there also
When it comes to choosing where to stay, there are some really gorgeous properties here.
My take on the hotels in Saint Lucia and where to choose for you: the Soufriere area for sheer escapism and romance and nature right on your doorstep. Highlights would be Ladera which is very small, very intimate, spectacular views right between the Pitons. There's Anse Chastenet as well and of course that now has its big sister hotel, Jade Mountain which is pretty well the ultimate in luxury escapism. The Rodney Bay area for nightlife and restaurants if thats what you are looking for as well as the hotel facilities. Here at Marigot Bay I really like the fact that you've got the yachts there bobbing around and you are very close to Castries. Course a lot of people prefer a villa holiday and there's lots of choice here in Saint Lucia. There are standalone villas and also a number of resorts with villas within them. I think that's a great option because you have all the services of a hotel but all the privacy of a villa. Its a good idea.
And of course alongside top quality accommodation comes great food. At the Ti Bananne restaurant in Rodney Bay, I met up with rising star Chef Richardson Skinner
I think its fair to say the Caribbean never used to have a great reputation for its food, how's that changed?
The Caribbean cuisine is becoming very popular now for many reasons. One, people are getting away form the bland food and getting in to the spices and the seasoning and we've always been known for that. And not only that, I think that there's a change in the mentality of young chefs. Its become somewhat glamorous to be a chef so they are taking more interest and using the ingredients, and really experimenting. Caribbean cuisine is really making its mark right now, using our own ingredients and our own technique and what our grandparents used to do. Really being innovative and creating new dishes with Caribbean ingredients. It makes me very proud to be a Caribbean chef right now.
Of course its not just about fine dining – for the freshest local catch the Friday night fish fry in Anse La Raye is fantastic value and a great night out for both locals and tourists.
For local produce and spices, head to Castries market, open daily but especially lively on a Saturday
I think the great thing is just seeing St Lucian people just enjoying their own market and some of the stall holders are really characters. Its really fun just chatting to them, see what they are selling, what they are growing. Yeah you get a real flavour of St Lucia here
Out and about on the island, there are plenty of things to see and do…
This area here you are standing inside is the Caribbean's only drive in volcano, you have actually driven through it from Soufriere town coming in to here. Its not a cone volcano but a collapsed volcano, a caldera, 12 sq mms
In the island’s lush, tropical interior there are also lots of different options for soft adventure…
There’s great diving from the south coast…
…or how about taking a scenic helicopter flight?
For something a little gentler, there are also lovely gardens and waterfalls, charming picturesque villages and the St Lucia Heritage Tourism sites where you can learn more about the island’s history and culture
This is Pigeon Island National landmark. Theres actually a wedding going on behind me. I'm not surprised, its one of the most beautiful spots on St Lucia. Come May every year, the whole area comes alive with the national Jazz Festival. People come from all over the world for jazz here but not least St Lucians too. I imagine the atmosphere is great. The ocean on both sides, the beautiful atmospheric building and beautiful views. Its really gorgeous.
Every tourist board has its slogan and St Lucia is "Simply Beautiful" and I just can't argue with that - it really does deliver and ticks every box. Gorgeous beaches but so much more, soft adventure, rainforest, mountains, beautiful coastline and above all the friendly people, St Lucians are an absolute delight.
For Caribbean ‘first timers’ Saint Lucia is a great choice as it really does offer the best of all worlds. Fabulous beaches and gorgeous hotels are a given but there is much more besides. The lush tropical interior provides the vivid green contrast with the blue Caribbean ocean as well as opportunities for soft adventure. There’s also golf, horseriding and, naturally, great watersports including excellent diving.
For more general information on holidays in Saint Lucia click here Saint Lucia Tourism
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